Martin Luther famously said he would rather be ruled by a wise Turk than a foolish Christian. No worldviewist was Luther; he wanted certain skills more than a Christian confession. Today’s red-meat-politico-evangelicals dissent from the reformer, demanding testimony of at least some kind of Christian experience, preferably accompanied by the right worldview. We could call this “the most electable pious Christian” selection process.
In an attempt to discern the difference between Luther and Iowa evangelicals, it’s useful to compare how churches select pastors and how the NBA selects point guards. Bear with me now. When a church selects a pastor it is looking for a theological point of view, an exemplary character and a certain “skill set,” the latter consisting of things like preaching skills and pastoral skills. When a NBA team is looking for a point guard, it’s looking for a skill set while considering character only to the extent that bad character would be detrimental to the bottom line of wins and losses.
With Mike Huckabee and Pat Robertson being their former favorites, Iowa’s politico-evangelicals are clearly looking for something more like a pastor.
But the next question is more difficult to unravel: why? There are several possibilities. It could be that they think there is linkage between Christian confession and job performance. Maybe they think a president should be a Christian role model for the good of our citizens. Maybe correct political decisions are supposed to flow out of worldview. Or, for the sake of completeness, maybe they think God will bless a country for having a godly leader. I really don’t know; please tell me if you do.
The alternative is to take the point guard approach, which takes us back to a skill set with just enough character to not hinder bottom-line performance. Taking this approach, we would look for a president with a certain knowledge base, savvy, the ability to persuade, well-calibrated rhetoric, leadership ability, electability, adherence to our system of government, a certain gravitas, etc.
The point guard approach is understandable; the pastor approach is a puzzle. As far as Christian confession, my pastor has a good one but I wouldn’t vote for him. As for being an ethical role model, didn’t we already do that with Jimmy Carter? Worldview, for all its hype, can’t tell us whether Iran should be allowed to have nuclear capabilities and it doesn’t tell us whether marriage should be addressed at a federal or state level. As for God blessing a country for having a godly leader, well, just ask Jeremiah how that worked out when righteous Josiah was king.
So if politico-evangelicals ran a NBA team, I guess Huckabee would be the point guard. As for me, I’m going with Rajon Rondo for president, if you know what I mean.